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History of Science, Philosophy and 
Culture in Indian Civilization 

General Editor D.P. Chattopadhyaya 

Volume VII Part 2 

Religious Movements and Institutions 

in Medieval India 

edited by 


M ■' " ** — "" *'» 

Project of History of Indian Science, Philosophy and Culture 




The Shia Muslims 

S. Ali N adeem Rezavi 


In its literal sense the term shi'a in Arabic means a follower, party, group, associate, 
partisan, or in a loose sense the supporters. The word also occurs in the same sense in 
the Quran at a number of places. 1 In its applied sense, the term Shi'a now stands for the 
partisans of Ali, as distinct from the Sunnis (ahl- i sunnat iva al- jama at) in general. In 
the early years of Islamic history, one cannot, however, speak of two distinct groups; there 
were a very loose and ill-defined points of view which gradually concretized into two major 


It appears that in the last few years of the Prophet's life there was a group of companions 
(sahabah) who were loosely termed as the shVat-i ahl-i bait (supporters of the house of the 
Prophet) or shi'at-i Ali (the partisans of Ali) and they included companions like Abuzar 
al-Ghifari, Ammar bin Yasser Malik Abu Yaqzan, Salman al-Farsi, and Miqdad bin Amr 
al-Aswad, Ibn-i Abbas, and Huzaifa ibn al-Yaman and some others. Acccording to a tradition 
narrated on the authority of Abu Laila al-Ghifari, Abuzar, Salman al-Farsi, and Ibn al-Yaman, 
the Prophet used to say: 

Soon after my death there will be discord. When it occurs, adhere to 'Ali ibn-i Abi Talib since he will 
be the first person to see me and the first person to shake hands with me on the Day of Judgement. 
He is the greatest man of truth (as-siddiq al-Akbar), and he is the discriminator (faruq) from the 
ummah who discriminates between right and wrong, and he is the ya'sub (leader) of the believers 
while wealth is the ya'sub of the hypocrites (munaftq) . 2 

The depth of schism among Muslims in the early years of Islam is reflected clearly by 
Abuzar al-Ghifari, Abu Said al-Khuzri, Abdullah ibn Masud, and Jabir ibn Abdullah when 
they say: 

We (the companions of the Prophet) used to distinguish the hypocrites (munafiqun) by their hatred 
of 'Ali ibn Abi Talib. 3 

The Shia Muslims 281 

According to the Shia sources and traditions, the Prophet had on a number of occasions 
hinted that AM ibn Abi Talib was his successor, vice-regent (wasi) and Imam (spiritual leader) 
after him. 1 These traditions have been recorded by the majority of historians and traditionists 
from the earliest times. From the Shia point of view, the capping evidence for Ali's superiority 
is the tradition of the Ghadir-i Khum, which is recorded by almost all the non-Shia authorities 
like Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal, at-Tirmizi, Ibn Maja, Abu Daud, Ibn Athir, Ibn Kathir, and 
Ibn Abd al-Barr, apart from Shia authorities like Kulaini. 5 According to the authorities, the 
Prophet reached the pool of Ghadir on 10 March ad 632 while returning from his last 
pilgrimage to Mecca. After getting the people assembled and a pulpit erected, the Prophet 
delivered his farewell address in which he declared, 'He of whom I am the maula (the 
patron, master, leader, friend), of him 'Ali is also the maula. O God! Be the friend of him 
who is his friend, and be enemy of him who is his enemy'. After delivering the sermon, the 
Prophet asked Ali ibn Abi Talib to accept the people's felicitations in his own tent. 6 And 
then was revealed the verse: 

This day have we perfected your religion for you and completed Our favour unto you, and have 
chosen for you as religion al-Islam.' 

This event crystallized the difference between the two groups amongst the Prophet's 
followers. From this date, a formal division between the Shias and the Sunnis can be 
discerned. The disagreement which apparently germinated on this issue was not of the 
authenticity of the Ghadir or the issue of the precedence of Ali. The disagreement was on 
the interpretation of the word maula: The group which took the term to mean 'the leader' 
or 'the master', emerged as the Shia, while those who simply held it to mean 'friend' and an 
expression of esteem, were later to emerge as the Sunnis. 

Three months later, when the Prophet died, the schism took political overtones, with 
one group actively supporting the cause of the house of Ali. On getting the news of the 
Prophet's death, a group assembled at Saqifa-i Banu Sa'ida, an old assembly house, to choose 
his successor. After much discussion, this assembly chose Abu Bakr, a muhajir (emigrant), 
as against the claims of the Ansan (the Medinan companions) to be the sole leader. 8 It was 
at this meeting that a formal split occurred amongst the Muslims. Apart from the Hashimites 
or the house of Ali, there were a number of the Prophet's companions who opposed the 

claims of Abu Bakr. 9 

| After the Saqifa and the election of Abu Bakr, the term Shia came to incorporate 
within itself two types of meanings: (i) the political Shi'ism which indicates a belief that the 
mepibers of the house of the Prophet, the ahl-i bait, were the most worthy of holding 
thq 1 political authority; however, they did not have any belief in the religious status of 
thj family; and (ii) the religious Shi'ism which believed that the ahl-i bait were divinely 
inspired, whether or not they held the de facto political authority. The treaty of Imam 
Hasan with Amir Muawiya in ad 661 and his abdication must be seen in this light. The first 
unequivocal religious manifestation of the Shi'a movement appeared with the accession of 
Yazid ibn Muawiya, the establishment of a formal dynastic rule of the Umayyads, and 
the massacre at Karbala in ad 681. Towards the end of ad 681, a Shi'a movement at Kufa, 
popularly known as the tawwabun (penitents) movement was started under the leadership 
of Mukhtar bin Abi Ubaida as-Saqafi. This movement appears to have become popular not 
only amongst a number of Arab tribes but also amongst the mawalis (the non-Arab converts) 
who formed its backbone. The house of Ali, including Husain's son and successor, Ali ibn 
al-Husain Zainul Abidin, however, appears to have remained aloof. Imam Zainul Abidin's 
son and the fifth Imam of the house of Ali, Muhammad al-Baqir also appears to have 



remained aloof from the Tawwabun Movement, due to which a rift between the political 
Shi'i and the religious Shi'ism took place. Those who believed in political activism aligned 
themselves with Imam Baqir's half-brother, Zaid and came to be known as the Zaidiyah. 
This was the first division amongst the Shi'i. This period also saw the growth of the 
ghulat (extremist) movement. The martyrdom at Karbala had transformed the Shi'i from a 
primarily political party into a group with religious orientation, a position which was 
conducive for the growth of the ghulat. It was only during the Imamat of Jafar as-Sadiq (ad 
732-65), the sixth Imam, that the ghulat were suppressed and the mainstream Shi'ism 
emerged as a formal sect known as Jafari. Jafar as-Sadiq not only codified the Shi'i law (the 
fiqh-ija'fari) but also promoted the development of Shi'i kalam (speculative theology) and 
hikma (philosophical enlightenment). His moderate policy of amr bayn amrayn (between 
the two extremes) regarding jabr (divine force) and tafwiz (free-will) became the hallmark 
of the Isna Ashari (the twelvers) Shias who emerged after him as the mainstream Imamiya 

The imamate according to the Ja'fari fiqh was an article of faith and a fundamental 
principle. There was a permanent need of the mankind for a divinely guided and infallible 
{ma' sum) Imam who after the Prophet, would act as the authoritative leader and guide in 
all spiritual affairs. 10 This office was divinely inspired and was supposed to be transmitted by 
nass (explicit designation) under the divine command. Further, the imams were rasikhun 
fi'l 'Urn (firmly founded in knowledge) u and could interpret the inner meanings (ta'wil) of 
the Quran both esoteric and exoteric, and authoritatively explain the clear (muhkamat) 
and the allegorical (mutashabihat) verses. 12 Further, he was the hujja (proof) of divine 
existence and the earth cannot be void of God's hujja. 13 Under special circumstances, the 
imam could practise taqiyya (prudential concealment) , 14 

The doctrine of imamate formulated by Jafar as-Sadiq no longer required the imam to 
challenge the political authority of an established regime. In other words, the institutions 
of khilafat and imamat were doctrinally separated. With Him and nass through divine means 
from the Prophet, the rightful Imam became the sole authorized source of guidance even 
if the people had not accepted him as the khalifa. 

It was around this period that the Sunni law was also codified by the Imams Abu Hanifa, 
Shafi'i, Malik, and Hanbal into four respective schools. The death of Imam Jafar as-Sadiq 
marks an important turning point in the history of Shi'ism as one of the most important 
fragmentation of the Shi'i community took place at this point. There was a splinter group 
under the influence of the ghulat who believed that as-Sadiq had not died but was concealed 
and would return as Mahdi. Another group put forward the claim that as-Sadiq was the last 
of the imams. A third group, known as Fatahiyya supported the claims of Abdullah al-Aftah, 
one of the sons of as-Sadiq, who, however, died soon after. Yet another sect grew around 
Muhammad al-Dibaj, the fourth son of the sixth Imam. This group was known as 
Shumaitiyya. 15 All these groups were minor and disappeared after sometime. 

The main division which occurred after the death of Jafar as-Sadiq was between the 
Qat'iyya, who supported Musa Kazim as the seventh Imam and the Ismailiyya who were the 
followers of Ismail, the eldest son of as-Sadiq. It appears that the group supporting Ismail 
had originated even before the death of as-Sadiq. After ad 765 it broke into two splinter 
groups, one known as the al-hmailiyya al-khalisa and the other as the Mubarakiyya.^ The 
former belfeved that Ismail ibn Jafar had not died during his father's lifetime and the nass 
was in his favour. His death was only a ruse to protect him from the Abbasides. He would 


ultimately return as Mahdi. The Mubarakiyya, on the other hand, believed that after the 
death of Ismail, his son Muhammad was the new Imam. After the death of Muhammad ibn 

The Shia Muslims 283 

Ismail ibn jafar further divisions in the Ismailiyya groups took place. A group of the 
Mubarakiyya now traced the Imamate in the progeny of the dead Imam. It was from this 
group that the Fatimid dynasty in Egypt (ad 909-1171) was founded. A large number of 
Mubarakiyya, however, refused to accept the death of Muhammad ibn Ismail and believed 
that he would return as Mahdi or al-qaim. This group under the leadership of Hamdan 
Qarmat and Abdan did not recognize the Fatimids as their Imam and came to be known as 
Qaramita or Carmathians. Soon this sect became quite numerous in the region of Iraq. 
However, due to paucity of sources, very little is known about them. 

The early Ismailis believed that there was a fundamental distinction between the zahir 
(exoteric) and the batin (esoteric) of the religious text and beliefs. Every verse of the Quran 
had two meanings, the apparent and the hidden. The zahir, or the religious laws, underwent 
changes, whereas the batin contained the spiritual truth (haqa'iq) and was eternal. The 
batin and the haqa'iq could be revealed only through ta'wil (esoteric exegesis) which could 
be done only by the khawas or the elite in mankind. It was due to this philosophy that the 
Ismailis came to be also known as the Batiniyya. 

The Ismailis developed a cyclical interpretation of time and the religious history of 
mankind (daur). They believed that there were seven prophetic daurs, each of which was 
inaugurated by an enunciator (natiq); the first six natiqa were Adam, Noah, Abraham, 
Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad. Each of the natiq was succeeded by a legatee (wasi) , also 
called the silent one (samii); each of them in turn was succeeded by seven imams. Thus 
Muhammad was the natiq of the sixth era who was succeeded by Ali as the wasi; Ali was 
succeeded by seven imams, also known as atimma'; the last of them would again rise as the 
natiq. This pattern would change only in the seventh and final daur of history. According 
to this view, Muhammad ibn Ismail was the seventh Imam of the sixth daur who would 
ultimately return as the seventh natiq to initiate the final era. He would not bring any new 
shari'a but would rise as al-Mahdi and in his era there will be no difference between zahir 
and batin. According to the Qaramatis, the era of Islam ended with the first coming of 
Muhammad ibn Ismail and the seventh era had begun which was an age without a religious 
law. In the Fatimid doctrine, however, the seventh daur has been postponed. These doctrines 
were an anathema not only to the Sunnis, but also to the Qat'iyya who now designated 
themselves as the Isna 'Ashariya. 

Among the Isna 'Ashari Shi'i, the imamate continued through nass from Imam Musa 
Kazim to Imam Ali Reza, Imam Muhammad Taqi, Imam Ali Naqi, Imam Hasan 'Askari 
(d. ad 873-4), and then ultimately to Imam al-Qaim, the Mahdi, who after the death of his 
father Hasan 'Askari went into occultation (ghaibah) and would rise before the Day of 
judgement. Thus by the ninth century ad, the mainstream Shi'ism had come to be finally 


The Shi'i contact with India had started soon after the Prophet's death. During the caliphate 
of Umar, Arab incursions started in the regions of Baluchistan and Sindh, 17 and from 
the reign of Ali as the fourth Caliph, the region of Sindh and the Jats came under the 
influence of Shi'ism. 18 In fact, we are informed that one of the wives of Ali ibn al-Husain 
Zainul Abidin and the mother of Zaid was a Sindhi. 19 Under the Umayyids (ad 661-750) 
the persecution of the Shi'i led to their seeking asylum in the region of Sindh. Thus we 
hear of Ziyad Hindi of Sindh. 20 In the time of Abbasid caliphate, about 400 Shi'i under 


Abdullah al-Ashtar migrated to Sindh where they were welcomed and allowed to follow the 
Zaidiyya Shi'i theology. 21 Even among the transmitters of ahadis from Imamjafar as-Sadiq 
we hear of Aban Sindhi, Khalad Sindhi, and Faraj Sindhi. 22 From the ninth century, Ismailism 
of the Qaramita order appears to have been formally established in Sindh. In, ad 983-84, a 
military expedition under Julam bin Shaiban brought Multan under direct Fatimid rule. - 
Subsequently, we find that the inhabitants of Multan embraced Shi'ism and the Shi i azan 

(call to prayer) was openly recited. 24 

During the attack on Multan by Sultan Mahmud in ad 1009-10, a large number of 
Qaramita (mulhids/ heretics) were massacred and the Shi'i mosque was left to decay, being 
reduced to a barn-floor. 25 The Qaramitas at Multan were finally crushed by Muizzuddin bin 
Sam in ad 1176-7. The Ismaili Shi'i who somehow survived Mahmud's attack had in the 
meanwhile helped establish Ismaili rule in Uchh, Aror, Mansura, and Bhakkar. 26 

It was during the same period, in the reign of Siddharaja Jayasinha (ad 1094-1143) that 
Ismailism was introduced in Gujarat. 27 According to a legend, Ismailism was propagated in 
India by the legendary Nur Satgur who allegedly came to Gujarat from Alamut. He 
established the Nizari branch of the Ismaili faith in Gujarat; its members are today known 
as the Khojas. 29 The Ismailis belonging to the Tayyibi Mustali order, however, are known as 
the Bohras, a word derived from Gujarati vohra meaning 'merchant'. 30 

During the early years of the establishment of the Delhi Sultanate, a number of Ismaili 
Shi-i are found settled in the region of Delhi. During the reign of Iltutmish, they remained 
mostly politically inactive. During the reign of Sultan Razia, the Ismailis, derogatonly 
described as ' Mulahida and 'Nasibi' (the heretics), under the leadership of Maulana 
Nuruddin Turk, appear to have organized themselves. Minhaj-i Siraj specifically mentions 
the rebellion of Nur Turk and his followers who reviled the Sunni Khalifas. 31 

Mentioning the Bohra community of Gujarat, Qazi Nurullah Shustari says that they 
had been converted to Islam about 200 years ago (that is, in the fourteenth century) through 
the teachings of a scholar named Mulla Ali, who was buried at Khambayat. He gradually 
converted the Bohra mercantile community to Shi'ism. Ultimately when 'Sultan Zafar, who 
was one of the nobles of Sultan Firuzshah, occupied the throne of Gujarat', a large number 
of Sunni ulama came along with him and invited the people to accept the Sunm faith. As a 
result, 'some of the Bohras accepted the Sunni religion but a number of them remained 

firm on the Imamiyya creed'. 32 

In contrast to the Ismailis, not much is mentioned about the mainstream ( Twelver ) 
Shi'i groups under the early Delhi sultans. Indirect references to them suggest that they too 
had settled in sizeable numbers in north India. Probably, one of the reasons for the diiferent 
approaches towards the Ismailis and Isna Asharis lay in the extremist views held by the 
former As against this, the mainstream Isna Ashari Shi'i had shown that they could coexist 
with the Sunnis. The Buwaihid Shi'i rulers (ad 945-1055) of Iraq and Iran made no attempt 
to terminate the Abbasid Caliphate of Baghdad. They had found it useful politically to have 
a caliph at Baghdad whom they could manipulate to control their subjects. 

Further the ancestors of early Turkish sultans who ruled over northern India during 
twelfth-thirteenth centuries, the Shansabanis, a dynasty to which Muizzuddin bin Sam 
belonged, were allegedly converted to Islam at the hands of Ali ibn Abi Talib. The house of 
Shansab were devotees of Ali (mawali-i 'Alt) and the love for ahl-i to was rooted in their 
belief 33 It was only much later that they were converted to Sunnism. 

Shi'ism in the early medieval period was also being helped by the introduction of 
tafzili (trend of giving precedence to 'Ali) philosophy of the Chishti order of Sufis in India. 
According to the Chishtis, the khirqa (Sufic robe) which the Prophet obtained from God on 

The Shia Muslims 285 

the night of nri'raj was bestowed upon 'Ali, rejecting the claims of the first three khalifas. 
According to the Chishti belief, Ali excelled the other three caliphs in spiritual eminence, 
skuja'a (bravery), futuwwa (spiritual chivalry), and knowledge. 35 Shaikh Nizamuddin Auliya 
interpreted the ayat-i tathhir {the verse of purification) which established the precedence of 
ahl-i bait in the same fashion as the Shi'i. 36 Even in the controversial issue of bay a (allegiance) 
of Ali to Abu Bakr, the Chishtis held a similar position as the Isna Asharis. 37 Even amongst the 
Suhrawardis, who were staunch Sunnis and who held the Shi'i to be rawafiz (heretics), the 
love of ahl-i bait was held to be an essential element of the Sufi path. 38 

During the course of the thirteenth century, the Muharram mourning ceremonies 
were held openly in mosques, public places, and military camps. Minhaj-i Siraj, during the 
Gwalior campaign of Iltutmish, delivered tazkirs (religious sermons) in the camp three 
times per week during Ramazan, the first ten days of Zi'l hijja and the first 10 days ( 'ashra) 

of Muharram. 39 

It appears that during the reign of Muhammad bin Tughluq, a number of Saiyyids of 
the predominantly Shi'i region of Sabzwar came to settle in India. Ibn Battuta encountered 
a group of such migrants residing in Delhi. According to him they were originally the 
inhabitants of Hijaz and Iraq. 40 In 1326, Istikhan al-Dihlavi mentions the relatively better 
position of the Isna Asharis under Muhammad bin Tughluq. 41 It would seem that Muharram 

was publicly celebrated during his reign. 

By the time of Firuz Shah Tughluq, the number of Shias appears to have grown 
considerably. In fact, the Sultan complains of the resurgence of the Shias during his reign. 
. The period saw the publication of a number of treatises hostile to the Shias, 42 and the 
implementation of an anti-Shia state policy. Firuz Shah complains that the Shias reviled the 
pious caliphs and Aisha, the Prophet's wife. He further mentions that the Isna Ashari Shias 
(rawafiz) and the Ismailis, both Nizari and Mustali (the mulhid and Qaramata) were given 
exemplary punishments and paraded in public (tashhir), their books were burnt in public, 
and a large number of them were given capital (siyasat) punishment. 43 

The Sufi saint Saiyid Muhammad Ashraf Jahangir Simnani arrived in India around 
1 380, and we find that by the start of the next century he had introduced the ' alam (standard) , 
one of the most prominent Shia symbols, into the mourning rituals. 44 

After Timur's invasion in 1398, the Delhi Sultanate disintegrated into a number of 
small provincial dynasties. It was around this time that Shi 4 ism began making inroads in the 
Deccan states under the Bahmanids of Gulbarga and Bidar, the Adil Shahis of Bijapur, and 
the Nizamshahis of Ahmadnagar. 45 One of the first to introduce Shi'ism in the Deccan 
culture was Fazlullah Inju, a disciple of Sa'aduddin Taftazani, a famous scholar at Timur's 

court. 46 

Timur professed doubtfully pro-Shia tendencies. Gauharshad, the wife of Timur's fourth 

son Shahrukh, built a magnificent mosque at Mashhad adjacent to the tomb of Imam Reza. 

It is alleged that Timur used to carry a small ta'zia with him. 47 A farman of Aurangzeb 

mentions that Timur had gone for pilgrimage to Karbala and possessed the head-scarf 

{rumal) of Fatima which he had obtained from the grave of one of the martyrs of Karbala, 

Hurribn Riyahi. 48 

The first openly Shia ruler in the Deccan appears to have been Yusuf Adil Shah, who 
ordered the first Shia azan to be called in 1502-3 and the names of the twelve imams to 
be included in the khutbaS* Further impetus to the spread of Shi'ism in the Deccan was 
given during the reign of Ali Adil Shah (1558-80), when Ghiyasuddin Shirazi Afzal Khan 
migrated to Bijapur and established a seminary which started attracting a number of students 
from Iran. Afzal Khan, who soon rose to the position of Wakil us-Saltanat and was given the 


title of Mir Jumla also invited his teacher Shah Fathullah Shirazi to the Deccan: he 
subsequently arrived at Bijapur along with a number of renowned Shia scholars. 50 It was the 
same Shah Fathullah Shirazi who subsequently established his influence at Akbar's court at 
Fatehpur Sikri. 

The Shia influence in Kashmir appears to have started with the arrival of Mir Saiyid 
Muhammad, son of the famous mystic Mir Saiyid Ali Hamadani, in Kashmir in 1393. 51 Mir 
Siayid Ali himself had visited Kashmir in 1381 and remained there for a period of three 
years. He left behind a number of Iranian Sufis and scholars. 52 During his stay of more than 
a decade in Kashmir, Mir Saiyid Muhammad is said to have been instrumental in converting 
Suha Bhatt, the prime minister of the ruling Sultan, to Islam. 53 This period also saw the 
conversion of a number of inhabitants to Shi'ism. 54 According to Qazi Nurullah Shustari, 
further impetus was given to propagation of Shi'ism in Kashmir with the arrival, in 1502, of 
Mir Shamsuddin Iraqi who was one of the chief disciples and khalifas of Shah Qasim, the 
son of Saiyid Muhammad Nur Bakhsh. 55 Mir Shamsuddin was a descendant of the seventh 
Imam, Musa Kazim, and an expert in Nur Bakhshiya teachings which were based on love 
and devotion to Ali and the ahl-i bait. He was helped in his endeavours by Baba Ali Najjar, 
a mystic saint of Kashmir. 56 Mirza Haidar Doghlat, who led an expedition into Kashmir in 
1540 at the behest of Humayun, mentions: 

The people of Kashmir were [formerly] all Hanafi, but in the reign of Fath Shah, the father of this 
Sultan Nadir (Nazuk) , a man of the name of Shams came from Talish in Iraq who gave himself out 
as a Nur Bakhshi. He introduced a corrupt form of religion, giving it the name of Nur Bakhshi and 
practising many heresies. He wrote a book for these cowardly people called Fiqh-i Ahwat which does 
not conform to the teachings of any of the sects, whether Sunni or Shia. (These sectaries) revile the 
companions of the Prophet and Aisha, as do the Shi' as, but contrary to the teaching of these latter, they 
look upon Amir Saiyyid Muhammad Nurbakhshi as the Lord of the Age and the Promised Mahdi. 57 

It appears that during this period, the Shias of Kashmir preferred to call themselves 
Nur Bakhshis. 

In 1591, when, according to Abul Fazl, Qazi Nurullah Shustari was sent to Kashmir 
to enquire into the complaints regarding the revenue administration, 58 he reported as 

Most of the soldiers (there), for example the group (giroh) of Duna, Magriyan (Magre) and Dangar 
(Wankar?) etc. are totally Shi'is. In the city (Srinagar), the inhabitants of Muhallas (quarters) 
Hasanabad and Jadibal are all Shi'i. The tomb and hospice (khanqah) of Mir Shams (Shamsuddin) 
Iraqi are situated in the latter (Jadibal) quarter. Likewise, among the progeny of Baba Ali (Najjar), 
a khalifa of Mir Shams and his disciples (murid), a very large number are Shi'i. Among the qasbas 
(towns) of that place (Kashmir) , qasba Shihabuddinpur is one of the best, and all the inhabitants are 
Shi'i. Among the parganas, the inhabitants of pargana Basuka, comprising 208 villages, are all Shi'i. 
In other parganas (also), there are other villages whose inhabitants are also Shi'i, but their details 
are still awaited and not (at the moment) known. 59 

This report of Qazi Nurullah Shustari is further authenticated by Firishta and Emperor 
Jahangir. Firishta writes that according to the reports of 'highly educated travellers to 
Kashmir', the Kashmiri peasants were Hanafis, while the majority of the soldiers were Shia. 60 
Jahangir mentions that while a group belonged to the Nur Bakshi order, the majority of 
Kashmiri soldiers were Imamia Shias. However, according to him, the merchants and artisans 
in Kashmir were mostly Sunnis. 61 

The Shia Muslims 287 

Qazi Nurullah then goes on to discuss two other neighbouring regions Kashmir: the 
Tibet-i Buzurg (Ladakh) and Tibet-i Khurd (Baltistan). According to him while the former 
was predominantly non-Muslim, the latter was under the Shia influence. He says: 

Since the said Mir Shams (Mir Shamsuddin Iraqi) reached Tibet, the inhabitants of this place have 
turned Muslims, and all of them, i.e. the rulers, soldiers and the peasants have embraced the Shi'i 
ithna ashariMth and are so deeply devoted to tashi'yu' (Shi 'ism) that if someone from amongst the 
Sunnis of Kashmir happens to visit Tibet, they impose jizya on them. Although they live in the 
vicinity of Empire of India (Saltanat-i Hindustan) they recite the khutbam the name of the (Safavid) 
rulers of Iran. 62 

Firishta also mentions this Shia influence over this region but perhaps confuses Ladakh 
with Baltistan, saying: 

The friendship with Kashmir soldiers has made the ruler of Ladakh, who is a neighbour of the 
Kashmiris, such a fanatical Shi'i that if a stranger happens to visit his country and does not curse the 
sahaba (Prophet's Companions) , they turn him out of Ladakh. The Chaks claim that Mir Shamsuddin 
Iraqi was a Shi'i and his contemporary heretics and rulers became his disciples and as per his orders 
recited the khutba in the name of the Twelve (Imams). 63 

A new chapter in the history of the Shias in India starts with the establishment of 
Mughal rule in India. By the time of Humayun's accession (1530), a sizeable number of 
Shias had come to reside in Delhi. According to Badauni, during this period, 'ashura 
assemblies known as ma'arik (lit. battlefields) were quite popular. 64 An anecdote narrated 
by Rizqullah Mushtaqi alleges that even a prayer-leader (Imam) having Shia leanings but 
practising taqiyya (dissimulation) was found in Humayun's military camp. 65 On his return 
from Persia, Humayun had brought along with him a number of Shia soldiers and officers. 66 
It is interesting to note that it was during this period that Saiyid Raju bin Saiyid Hamid al- 
Husaini al-Bukhari had started a movement against the taqiyya being practised in India. 67 
All this would suggest a sense of confidence felt by the Shias under Mughal rule. 

The fifteenth century had already seen considerable growth of Shi'ism in India, 
and the person chiefly responsible for this appears to have been Saiyid Raju bin Saiyid 
Hamid al-Husaini of Bukhara. According to Qazi Nurullah Shustari his endeavours 
amongst the Sunnis of Baluchistan and Multan converted many of them to the path of 
Shi'ism. 68 The Qazi further informs us that a large number of Bukhari Saiyids had 
migrated to India along with Saiyid Jalal Bukhari Makhdum Jahaniyan (d. ad 1384). In 
India they had settled in various cities like Multan, Lahore, and Delhi. But in order to 
safeguard their interests, he and his followers led a life of dissimulation (taqiyya). It was 
Saiyid Raju who initiated a movement against this policy of dissimulation and exhorted 
his fellow Shias to openly declare their faith and remain busy in the pursuit of the 
' mazhab-i haq (true religion). 69 

By this time, another group of Shia Saiyyids had come to reside in north India and 
Gujarat— the Siddiqiyah Saiyids— who were the disciples of Saiyyd Kabiruddin and claimed 
descent from Ismail, the son of Imam Jafar as-Sadiq. It was by the way of taqiyya that they 
called themselves Siddiqis (that is, descendants of Abu Bakr), yet their Shi'ism was known 
at least during the reign of Akbar when Makhdum ul-Mulk Mulla Abdullah Lahori tried to 
follow a policy of discrimination against them. According to Qazi Nurullah Shustari, they 
had a population of about 30,000 and mostly resided in the towns of Multan, Lahore, Delhi, 
and Gujarat. Most of them were traders by profession and regularly paid khums to the sons 
of their pir, Saiyid Kabir. 70 


Another leading family of the Iranian Shias, who by this time had settled in India, 
were the group of the Anjawiya Sadat, the leading Saiyids of Shiraz. They were also living 
openly without resorting to taqiyya. 71 

Among the Bohras at Ahmedabad, the followers of the Isna Ashari creed had about 
2,000 houses and were known to despatch their share of khums to the Sayids of Medina and 
the zakat to their religious leader. Qazi Nurullah Shustari says that although this group 
indulged in 'the adverse act (bald) of taqiyya', yet their love for ahl-i bait brought them 
persecution at the hands of the Sunni orthodoxy. 72 

The reign of Akbar marked not only a further growth of Shi'ism but also the 
introduction of Usuli Fiqh in India. From the time of the Occultation of the Twelfth imam 
upto the establishment of Safavid empire in 1501, the majority of the Shia ulama held that 
the state related functions could not be performed in the absence of the imam. Only the 
imam could collect and distribute religious taxes, lead Friday congregational prayers, and 
order jihad. 73 Such literalist interpreters under the Buwaihids came to be known as the 
akhbari. Another group of ulama developed the Usuli Fiqh. They assumed the right to act 
for the imam as proxies known as wali-iFaqih. The Usulis advocated the use of 'elaboration' 
(ijtihad) , partially trusted human intellect, and applied Greek philosophical tools to discover 
the will of the Hidden imam. Since they insisted that the laymen must follow their rulings, 
they gradually assumed the position of a clergy. The akhbaris, on the other hand, forbade 
the use of rationalist tools both in kalam and fiqh and depended only on the literal 
interpretation of oral reports (akhbar) transmitted to them from the imams. The Usulis 
considered the consensus of jurisprudents (ijma) as a source of legal judgement, and divided 
the believers into two categories: the jurisprudents (mujtahid) and the laymen. The latter 
were to follow the mujtahid in matters of law. It is important to note that this division took 
place under the Buwahids when the Shias came to enjoy political authority for the first 
time. The Usuli Fiqh became popular with the establishment of Safavid rule. The most 
prominent among the ulama under the Safavids who formulated the principles of Usuli 
Fiqh was Shaikh AH al-Karaki who, in the very first year of the reign of Shah Tahmasp, had 
ordered the appointment of a prayer leader in every town and village. 74 

The contacts between Safavid Iran and the Mughal court must have helped to 
disseminate Usuli Fiqh among the Shias of India. We know that a large number of Irani 
Shias migrated from Iran to the Mughal court. Some others migrated first to Bijapur and 
thereafter entered Mughal service. Further, it was during this period that the Ishraqi 
philosophy was gaining ground at Akbar' s court. Rationalism ( 'aql) was being stressed as 
against blind imitation. The chief proponent of this philosophy during this period was 
Abul Fazl. 75 The large number of Persian Shia immigrants to Akbar's India included scholars 
like Hakim Abul Fath Gilani, his brothers Hakim Humam and Hakim Lutfullah, Hakim Ali, 
Shah Fathullah Shirazi, and Qazi Nurullah Shustari al-Marashi. Of these, Fathullah Shirazi 
and Nurullah Shustari appear to have been under the influence of Usuli Fiqh. Among the 
Shia scholars of Indian origin, Mulla Ahmad Thattavi, a neo-convert, also came under the 
influence of the Usuli doctrine during his visit to Iran and Iraq. The confidence of the 
Shias during the reign of Akbar can be gauged from the fact that Qazi Nurullah repeatedly 
opposed the observance of taqiyya in India. He argued that it was hampering the growth 
and propagation of the Shia faith. 76 This stand was vehemently opposed by some of the 
akhbari Shias. Mir Yusuf Ali Astarabadi, an akhbari of Agra, warned the Qazi against such 
an approach, but the Qazi defended his position by sending him a long reply: 

Perhaps it is better for you to search the Shi'i houses in Agra and take away any books on the Shi'i 
faith and burn them .... I believe that as there is a just ruler in India, there is no justification for 

The Shia Muslims 289 

performing taqiyya. In any case it is not imperative for men like me who believe that death glorifies 
the faith of the martyr. The shari'a has indeed forbidden such persons to perform taqiyya. Only 
those who are not steadfast in their faith and do not care to strengthen it, should have recourse to 
it 77 

Nurullah further refuted the concept of taqiyya in a number of letters sent to critics 
and friends. For example, in a letter written by him and sent to Mulla Qausi Shustari, the 
Qazi wrote a qasida: 


Blessed be the Emperor whose patronage in Hind has not made my faith dependent of taqiyya. 

In a letter to Bahuddin Amuii, Nurullah Shustari reasoned: 

I came to the conclusion that in India, taqiyya was a great calamity: It would expel our children from 
the Imamiyya faith and make them embrace the false Ash'ari or Maturidi faiths. Reinforced by the 
kindness and bounty of the Sultan, I threw away the scarf of taqiyya from my shoulders and, taking 
with me an army of arguments, I plunged myself into jihad against the 'ulama of this country. 79 

In a reply to a question regarding the role of ijtihad and mujatahid in the Shia faith, 
he explained: 

The Shi'i mujtahidin (jurisprudents) who draw upon the knowledge of Prophet Muhammad and 
Imam (Ali), are inspired by their Imams when forming ijma and can differ only in their respective 
understanding of the Imam's rulings. 80 

Under Akbar not only had the Mughal court withdrawn much of its patronage from 
the orthodoxy, 81 but the general atmosphere was also one of religious debate and dialogue. 
Akbar himself had established an ibadatkhana at Fatehpur Sikri where from 1575 onwards 
religious discussions were regularly held between the theologians of various sects and faiths. 82 
The wide range of Shia-Sunni polemical debate (manazira) in this gathering emboldened 
the Shia ulama and lowered the morale of the Sunni theologians. 83 In the ibadatkhana 
debates, the Shias were led by Mulla Muhammad Yazdi. Badauni says: 

Attaching himself to the Emperor, he commenced openly to revile the sahaba (Companions of the 
Prophet), told queer stories about them, and tried hard to make him a Shi'i. But he was soon left 
behind by Bir Bar, that bastard! and Hakim Abul Fath, who successfully turned the Emperor from 
Islam, and led him to reject inspiration, prophethood, the miracles of the Prophet and of the saints, 
and even the whole law, so that he could no longer bear their company. 84 

Outside the court as well, such religious debates were getting common. This period 
saw the compilation of a large number of Sunni polemical works. For example, Abdullah 
Sultanpuri wrote Minhaj al-Din wa Mi'raj alMuslimin. The Sawaiq al-Muhriqa of ibn Hajar al- 
Haisami and the al-Nawaqiz of Makhdum Sharifi were also in circulation. Qazi Nurullah's 
Masa'ib un-Nawasib was the first Shia rejoinder written in India to the polemical debate 
initiated by the Sunni ulama. He followed it with the writing of al-Sawarim al-Muhriqa. 85 
According to the list prepared by Saiyid Sibtul Hasan, out of a total 105 treatises written by 
Qazi Nurullah, forty dealt with polemics and kalam. 86 

Shi'ism was being propagated similarly by Mulla Ahmad Thattavi. 87 Enmity caused by 
this led to his murder in December 1587 by Mirza Faulad, the son of a noble who had been 
sent as the ambassador of Akbar to the court of Abdullah Khan Uzbek. 88 Though the 
murderer was executed, Mulla Ahmad's grave was dug up and the body burned by a hostile 
mob. 89 


Fathullah Shirazi too is found fiercely asserting his Shia identity. In fact, Badauni says 
that he was a staunch Shia who would not compromise on even a single point of law. 90 An 
idea of Fathullah Shirazi' s faith can be had from the fact that inspite of a hostile atmos- 
phere he said his Shia prayers in the Diwan Khana-i Khas at Fatehpur Sikri. 91 

By Akbar's reign the custom of walking barefoot on fire with 'alams during Muharram 
had already begun to be performed openly. Monserrate gives an eye-witness account of the 
mourning ceremony he saw at Narwar: 

They (the grandsons of the Prophet) were thereupon cruelly tortured by the unbelievers (as the 
Musalmans call us and were compelled) to walk with bare feet over hot coals. For this reason the 
Musalmans fast for nine days, only eating pulse; and on certain of these days some of them publicly 
recite the story of the sufferings of Asson (Hasan) and Hossan from a raised platform, and their 
words stir the whole assembly to lamentation and tears. On the last day of the festival funeral pyres 
are erected and burnt one after the other. The people jump over these, and afterwards scatter the 
glowing ashes with their feet. Meanwhile they shriek 'Asson Hossen' with wild and savage cries. 92 

This is the first detailed description of the matam (mourning rites) on fire and rauza 
khwani from the minbar (pulpit) which became quite popular during the nineteenth century. 

During the reign of Jahangir, after the execution of Qazi Nurullah Shustari in 1610, 93 
the practice of taqiyya appears to have become common once again amongst the nobles of 
the court. In spite of the ascendancy of the Iranian nobility and the power and prestige 
enjoyed by Nurjahan's family, the position of the Shias did not remain the same as in 
Akbar's reign. In fact, we find it reported that Jahangir himself advised Saiyidjalal Gujarati 
that if he really was a Shia he should renounce (tauba) his faith. 94 

In spite of the changed political climate, the Shia masses during the reign of Jahangir 
appear to have remained unaffected. From the account of Pelsaert it appears that even 
during this period (Pelsaert was at Agra in 1620-7) the Shia openly observed Muharram 
and took out processions which included even tabut (replica of Imam Husain's coffin) and 
tazia (replica of the tomb). To quote him: 

In commemoration of this slaughter they make a great noise all night for a period of ten days; the 
women sing lamentations, and make a display of mourning; in the chief streets of the city the men 
make two coffins, adorn them as richly as they can, and carry them round in the evening with many 
lights, large crowds attending, with great cries of mourning and noise. The chief celebration is on 
the last night, when it seems from the great mourning as if God had plagued the whole country as in 
the time of Pharaoh's obstinacy, when all the first-born were slain in one day. The outcry lasts till the 
first quarter of the day; the coffins are brought to the river, and if two parties meet carrying their 
biers (it is worst on that day), and one will not give place to the other, then, if they are evenly 
matched, they may kill each other as if they were enemies at open war, for they run with naked 
swords like madmen. No Hindus can venture into the streets before midday, for even if they should 
escape with their life, at the least their arms and legs would be broken to pieces. This continues till 
at last they have thrown them (the coffins) into the river; then they bathe, return home finely 
dressed, and each goes to the graves of his deceased parents or friends, which have been newly 
white-washed and decorated for the occasion, bringing food and flowers, and, after due mourning, 
giving the food to the poor. 95 

This description of the rauza khwani (recital), nauha (elegies) and the matam with 
qama (swords) and the accompanying frenzy depicts a community far removed from any 
fear of persecution. 

The Shia Muslims 29 1 

But in 1635-6 we have the description of the observance of Muharram at Lahore 
where it appears that the Shias were forced to observe the tenth of Muharram in the privacy 
of their houses while the Sunnis carried out their observance publicly on the streets: 

On the tenth of Muharram all Shi'is and Hindus lock their shops and houses and shut themselves up 
in their houses like bats. The organizers of the placards (the processionists wearing black and holding 
paintings representing Imams and Ibn Muljam) then rush to the Nakhas (cattle market), where the 
holders of the two different sets of placards, joined by the crowds there, come to blows with each 
other.... 96 

Such riots and destruction of property during the Muharram festivities appear to have 
become quite frequent during the reign of Aurangzeb who ultimately banned such 
processions. 97 

After Aurangzeb 's reign two important Shia centres were established at Delhi. The 
burial site of Mahabat Khan, renamed as Shah Mardan, emerged as a nerve centre for Shia 
activities in Delhi. 98 Almost during the same period was developed the site of Panja Sharif 
which emerged as an important pilgrimage centre during the tenure of Najaf Khan in late 
eighteenth century. Further impetus was given to the observance of Muharram in Delhi, 
both by Sunnis and Shias, when Shah Abdul Aziz started observing it in his own khanqah. 99 

Aurangzeb's successor Bahadur Shah (1707-12) too came under Shia influence. 100 He 
asked the ulama to introduce the term wasi with the name of Ali in the Friday khutba. 101 
After the invasion of Nadir Shah in 1 739, new regional powers were established and the 
Mughal rule was reduced to the area around Delhi. 

The final chapter of the history of the Shias in India started with the establishment of 
the Nawab Wazir's rule in Awadh. It was during the late eighteenth century that Maulana 
Dildar Ali of Nasirabad, on his return from Iran and Iraq, established the Usuli Fiqh 
conclusively in the Indian subcontinent. After the execution of Qazi Nurullah Shustari, the 
incursions of the Usuli Fiqh had proved to be furtive. Dildar Ali, entitled Ghufran Ma'ab, 
single-handedly transformed the Indian Shi'ism from the akhbari to the Usuli principles! 
In May 1786 Ghufran Ma'ab succeeded in organizing the first Friday congregation of the 
Shia. With this was established the open phase of Indian Shi'ism which culminated in the 
establishment of a distinct Shia community of modern India. 


1 The Holy Quran, Text, translation, and commentary, A. Yusuf Ali, 1983, Maryland, xix, 69- xxviii 15- 
xxxvii, 83. ' ' 

2 Ibn Abd al-Barr, al-hti'ab fi Ma'rifati'l ashab, Cairo, n.d., Vol. IV, p. 1744; Ibn al-Athir, Usd al-ghabah ft 

ma'rifati's sahabah, Cairo, n.d., Vol. V, p. 287; al-Munawi ash-Shafi'i, Fait al-Qadirfi Shark al-jami' as Saghir,, n.d., Vol. IV, p. 358; al-Muttaqi al-Hindi, Kanz al-'ummal fi sunan al-aqwal wa'l afal, Hyderabad 

(2nd edn) Vol. XII, p. 228; Ibn Abil Hadid, Sharh-i Nahjul Balaghah, Cairo, 1959, Vol.13, p. 228 and Vol 
19, p. 224. 

3 At-Tirmizi, Sahih al-Tirmizi (or al-Jami' as-Sahih) , Cairo, 1934, Vol. V, p. 635; al-Hakim ibn al-Bayyian 
Naishapun, al-Mustadrak 'ala as-sahihain, Hyderabad, Vol. 3, p. 129. 

4 For details of the Shia traditions, Allama Saiyid Muhammad Husayn Tabatabai, Shi'ah, translated by 
S. Husain Nasr, Qum, 1981; S.H.M. Jafri, The Origins and Early Development o/Shi'a Islam, Qum, n.d; S.A.A. 
Rizvi, A Soao-intellectual History of the Isna' Ashari Shi'is in India, 2 Vols, Delhi 1986 

5 Veccia Vaglieri, 'Ghadir Khum', Encyclopedia of Islam (new edition), Leiden. Abdul Husain Ahmad al- 
Amini an-Najafi, al-Ghadir fi al-Kitab wal Sunnatwal adab, 8 Vols, Teheran, ah 1372, one of the most 
authoritative work on the theme. 


6 Ibn Sa'd, Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Kabir, Leiden, 1914-15, Vol. 2, pp.124-38; Ibn Hanbal, al-Musnad, Cairo, 
1895, Vol. 4, pp.281,30; Vol. 5, p.419; al-Muttaqi al-Hindi, Kanz al-ummal,Vol 5, pp. 152, 154, 398; Yaqubi, 
at-Tarikh, Beirut, 1960, Vol. 2, pp. 109-12; Ibn al-Barr (n.d.), Vol. 2, p. 473. 

7 Al-Quran, V:3. 

8 For this &flfa Ibn Hisham, Sirat Rasul Allah, Cairo, 1937, pp. 328-40; Tabari, 7<znM ar-Basulwa IMuluk, 

Leiden, 1964, I, pp. 1819-22; Yaqubi (1960), pp. 123-4. - 

9 Yaqubi (1960), Vol. II, p.126; Ibn Sa'd (1914-15), Vol. IV, p. 67. Ibn Abd al Barr (n.d.), p. 154; Qazi 
Nurullah Shustari, Majalis ul- Mu'minin, Tehran, ah 1299/ad 1882, pp.80-1. 

10 Kulaini, Usul-i Kafi, Teheran, 1972, Chapter 52, hadis, 2. 

11 Ibid., Chapter 22, hadis 2. 

12 Ibid., Chapter 22, hadis 1. 

13 Ibid., Chapter 64, hadis 2. 

14 Ibid., Chapter 52, hadis 2. 

15 Farhad Daftari, A Short History of the Ismailis, Edinburgh, 1998. 

16 Daftari goes into these developments in some detail. 

17 Balazuri, Futuh ulBuldan, Leiden, 1968, p.432; Ibn Athir, Usd al-ghabahfi ma'nfatz's sahabah, Cairo, n.d., 

Vol. Ill, pp. 35,77,97, 100-101. 

18 Ibn Athir, (n.d.), Vol. Ill, pp. 45-6, 381. 

19 Muhammad Qasim Firishta, Gulshan-i Ibrahimi or Tarikh-i Firishta, Lucknow, n.d., Vol. I, p. 95. 

20 Abul Faraj al Isfahan!, MaqaHH't Talibiyin, Cairo, 1949. Persian translation by S. Hashim Rasuh Mahallabi, 

Teheran, n.d., p. 143. 

21 Ibid., p. 146; Ibn Athir (n.d.), Vol. V, p. 595-6. 

22 Abdul Hayy, Nuzhat ul-Khawatir, Hyderabad, 1947, Vol. I, pp. 51-2. 

23 Abu Zafar Nadwi, Tarikh-i Sind, Azamgarh, 1947, pp. 256-7. 

24 Muqaddisi, Ahsan ut-Taqasim, Leiden, pp. 481, 485. 

25 Firishta (n.d.), pp. 25-7; Alberuni, Kitabul Hind, translated by C. Sachau, Alberuni s India, 1964, p. 11/. 

26 Abu Zafar Nadwi (1947), pp. 270-2, 279-81. . 

27 S.C. Misra, Muslim Communities in Gujarat, Bombay, 1964, pp.10-42, 54-7, 60-1; Farhad Daftari (1998), 

pp. 177-93. 

28 Farhad Daftari, ibid., pp.177-93. 

29 Ibid., p. 177. 

30 Ibid., p. 187. Qazi Nurullah Shustari (1882) , p. 234. 

31 Minhaj us-Siraj, Tabaqat-i Nasiri, New Delhi, 1977 (reprint), pp. 189-90; Hasan Sijzi, Fawatd ul-Fuad, 

Bulandshahr, 1855-6, pp. 212-13. 

32 Qazi Nurullah Shustari, (1882), pp. 234-5. 

33 Minhaj us-Siraj (1977), p. 29; Firishta (n.d.), Vol. I, pp. 27-9. 

34 Saiyid Muhammad ibn Mubarak Alvi Kirmani, Siyar ul-Auliya, Lahore, 1978, p. 354. 

35 Cf. S.A.A. Rizvi (1978), pp. 226-40, 349-50; S.A.A. Rizvi (1986), Vol. I, p. 153. 

36 Khwaja Banda Nawaz, JawamVul-Kilam, Gulbarga, 1937, p. 258. 

37 Ibid., p. 258. 

38 Khizana-iFawaid-iJalaliya, MS. BM, ff. 153(b) -155 (a). Cf. Rizvi (1986), Vol. I, p. 155. 

39 Minhaj us-Siraj (1977), pp. 174-5, 249. 

40 Ibn Batuta, The Rehla of Ibn Batuta. Translated by Mahdi Husain, 1976, p. 253. 

41 Istikhan al-Dihlavi, Basatin ul-Uns, Add. 7717; Rieu, II, 752-3, f.5.(b). 

42 Sirat-iFiruz Shahi, MS., Khuda Bakhsh Library, Patna, ff.l22(b)-130(a). Saiyyid Jalal Bukhan Makhdum 
Jahaniyan, Sirajiyya, Raza Library, Rampur. Nizam Haji Gharib, Lataif-i Ashrafi, Delhi, n.d., Vol. I, pp. 169- 

70, 343-8. 

43 Futuhat-i Firuzshahi, Aligarh, 1954, p. 6. 

44 Lataif-i Ashrafi, Vol. II, p. 268. 

45 Rizvi (1986), Vol. I, Chapter III. 

46 Firishta (n.d.), Vol. I, p. 302. . 

47 Saiyid Sibtul Hasan, Azadari ki Tarihh (Urdu), Lucknow, 1941; Hindu qaum aur Azadan, Lucknow, n.d., 

The author quotes certain late Mughal sources as evidence. 

48 Apart from Sibtul Hasan's works, see S.A.A. Rizvi (1986), Vol. II, p. 297. 

49 Firishta (n.d.), Vol. II, pp. 10-11; Ghulam Murtuza Zubairi, Basatin us-Salatin, Hyderabad, 189^-3, 

pp. 20-1. 

The Shia Muslims 293 

50 Gulam Murtuza Zubairi (1892-3), pp. 130-2. For further details regarding Shi'ism in the Deccan, see 
S.A.A. Rizvi (1986), Vol. I, pp. 247-341. 

51 Nurullah Shustari (1882), pp. 51-2; S.A.A. Rizvi (1978), Vol. I, pp. 296-7. 

52 S.A.A. Rizvi (1978), Vol. I, pp. 291-2; A.Q. Rafiqui, Sufism in Kashmir, Varanasi, n.d., pp. 31-42. 

53 S.A.A. Rizvi (1978), Vol. I, pp. 296-7. 

54 Nurullah Shustari (1882), p. 52. 

55 Ibid., p. 52; Saiyid All, Tarikh-i Kashmir, MS, Srinagar, ff.21-23(b). Cf. S.A.A. Rizvi (1986), Vol. I, p. 168, 

fn 100. 

56 Nurullah Shustari (1882), p. 52. 

57 E.D. Ross, (tr.) Tarikh-i Rashidl Patna, 1973 (reprint). 

58 Abul Fazl, Akbarnama, Calcutta, 1881-6, Vol. Ill, p. 595. 

59 Nurullah Shustari (1882), p. 52. 

60 Firishta (n.d.), Vol. II, p. 337. 

61 Tuzuk-i Jahangiri, Ghazipur and Aligarh, 1863-4, Vol. I, p. 303. 

62 Nurullah Shustari (1882), p. 52. 

63 Firishta (n.d), Vol. II, p. 337. 

64 Abdul Qadir Badauni, Muntakhab ut-Tawarikh, Calcutta, 1864-9, Vol. I, p. 481. 

65 Rizqullah Mushtaqi, Waqi'at-i Mushtaqi, MS (Rotograph in Department of History Library, AMU), 1993, 

p. 88. 

66 Badauni (1864-9), Vol. I, p. 468. 

67 Nurullah Shustari (1882), p. 52. 

68 Ibid., p. 64. 

69 Ibid., p. 230. 

70 Ibid., p. 264. 

71 Ibid., p. 231. 

72 Ibid., Vol. II, p. 235. . o^aci^qa 

73 Norman Calder, 'The Structure of Authority in Imami Shii Jurisprudence', Ph.D. Thesis, SOAS, 1980; 
J.R.I. Cole, Roots of North Indian Shiism in Iran and Iraq, Religion and State in Awadh, 1722-1859, Delhi, 

1989, p. 5. 

74 Said Amir Arjomand, The Shadow of God and the Hidden Imam: Religion, Political Order, and Societal Change m 

ShVite Iran from the Beginning to 1890, Chicago, 1984, pp. 133-4. 

75 Irfan Habib, Two Indian Theorists of the State: Barani and Abul Fazl', paper presented at the Patiala 
Session of the Indian History Congress, 1998 (mimeographed) . 

76 Nurullah Shustari (1882), pp. 2-3. Bakhtawar Khan, Mirat al-'Alam, ed. Sajida Alvi, Lahore, 1979, Vol. II, 
p. 439. For a biographical sketch and philosophy of Nurullah Shustari, see Saiyid Sibtul Hasan, Tazkira-i 
Majid, Karachi, 1984 (5th edn) and S.A.A. Rizvi (1986), Vol. I, Chapter V. 

77 Qazi Nurullah Shustari, al-Sawarim al-Muhriqa, Buhar, MS 12, Introduction. 

78 Nawab Inayat Khan Rasikh, Bayaz, Habibganj Collection, Azad Library, AMU, Aligarh, f.92(b). 

79 Ibid., ff.95(a)-96(a). 

80 Nurullah Shustari (1882), pp. 230-1. Reproduced with Urdu translation in Saiyid Sibtul Hasan (19S4), 

pp. 127-40. 

81 Abul Fazl (1982), Vol. Ill, pp. 491-500, 656-66. 

82 Badauni (1864-9) , Vol. II, pp. 203, 207-8. 

83 Ibid., Vol. II, p. 308. Dabistan-i Mazahib, Lucknow, 1904, pp. 312-15. 

84 Badauni (1864-9), Vol. II, p. 211. 

85 Nawwab Inayat Khan Rasikh, Bayaz, ff.95(a)-96(a) . 

86 Saiyid Sibbul Hasan (1984); Badauni (1864-9) Muntakhab ut-Tawarikh, Appendix I. 

87 Badauni (1864-9), Vol. Ill, pp. 168-9. 

88 Narullah Shustari (1882), p. 255. 

89 Badauni (1864-9), Vol. II, pp. 364-5. 

90 Ibid., Vol. II, p. 315. 

91 Ibid., Vol. II, p. 315. ,. nf , 1flW 

92 Monserrate, The Commentary of Father Monserr ate, translated byJ.S. Hoyland and Bannerji, Oxlord, WU, 

pp. 21-2. 

93 Shaikh Farid Bhakkari, Zakhiratul Khawanin, Karachi, 1961, Vol. II, p. 439. 

94 Ibid., Vol. Ill, p. 31. 


95 Pelsaert Jahangir's India, translated by W.H. Moreland and P. Geyl, New Delhi, 1972, pp. 74-5. 

96 Muhammad bin Amr Wall, Bahru 7 asrar ft Manaqibul Akhyar, Ethe, 575, tt.Z91(z)-(b). 

97 Khafi Khan, Muntakhab ul-Lubab, Calcutta, 1860-74, Vol. II, pp. 213-14. Tavernier, Travels in India, 
translated by V. Ball, Vol. II, pp. 176-7. 

98 Malfuzat-i Shah Abdul Aziz, p. 108. 

99 Dargah Quli Khan, Muraqqa-i Dihli, 1982, p. 2. 

100 Ghulam Husain Tabatabai, Siyar ul-Mutakhinn, Calcutta, 1832, Vol. I, p. 78. 

101 Mir Munshi Yahya Khan, Tazkirat ul-Muluk, MS (Rotograph in Department of History Library, AMU, 



ahadis: plural of hadis. . , .,. 

ahl-i bait: lit. 'people of the house". The progeny of the Prophet of Islam through his daughter Fatima and Ah. 

akhbar oral reports or traditions. Thus those Shia who give precedence to oral reports are known as akhbam 

<alam: standard; flag. The 'alam taken out in procession by the Shias during the Muharram celebration consists 
of a standard surmounted by a panja (hand-motif) denoting the hand of Husain which did not clasp in 
allegiance) the hand of Yazid, and a mashk (leather bottle to carry water). The alani generally 
commemorates the martyrdom of Abbas, the half-brother of Imam Husain and his official standard bearer, 
who was sent to fetch water on tenth day of Muharram but was instead martyred. 

ansar: the companions of the Prophet of Islam who joined him in Medina. 

'aql: rationalistic; based on reason. 

ashab: companions of the Prophet of Islam. 

>shra: 'ten days'. The first ten days of the month of Muharram when mourning ceremonies to commemorate 
Imam Husain's martyrdom at Karbala (Iraq) are celebrated. 

'ashura: tenth day of Muharram, the day on which Imam Husain was martyred at Karbala^ 

'ashurkhana: 'house of mourning', a building or place where mourning assemblies are held. They are also 
known as imambara, imambargah, hussainiya, or takiyah. 

bohra: lit. 'merchant' (vohra); Ismaili Shias of Tayyibi Mustali branch. 

fiqh: jurisprudence. 

faruq: discriminator (between right and wrong). 

Ghadir-i khum: the Pool or Marsh of Khum situated a few miles from Mecca on the road to Medina where the 
Prophet delivered his farewell sermon on 10 March ad 632. According to the Shia sources it ^was here that 
the Prophet formally declared Ali as his successor. The day is celebrated as a festival Id-i Ghadir by the 

ghulat: extremism; the extremist Shia protest movement started by Mukhtar after the incident of Karbala. 

hadis: tradition; sayings of the Prophet. 

ijma: consensus of jurisprudents. 

ijtihad: the art of interpretation or 'elaboration'; legal judgement. 

imam: spiritual leader; prayer-leader; the leader: the spiritual and temporal successor of the Prophet according 
to the Shia traditions. In Isna Ashari (Twelver) or mainstream Shi'ism, there are twelve imams. Ah ibn 
Abi Talib, Hasan ibn Ali, Husain ibn Ali, Ali ibn Husain Zainul Abidin, Muhammad al-Baqu ibn All Jafar 
as-Sadiq ibn Muhammad, Musa al-Kazim ibn jafar, Ali Reza ibn Musa, Muhammad al-Taqi ibn Ali, Ahun- 
Naqi ibn Muhammad, Hasan al Askari ibn Ali, and al-Mahdi. According to the Shia faith, the twelfth 
Imam, Imam al-Mahdi is the Living Imam, who was born in Samara, Iraq in ad 868. His date of birth, 15 
Shaban, is celebrated all over the Shia world as an 'Id. On this day the believers write down their requests 
on a paper {ariza) which is then covered in balls which are then thrown into a river or a blind well. After 
his father's death in .ad 872 he went into occultation (ghaibat) . Thereafter he appeared only on exceptional 
occasions before his deputies (naib) , the last of whom died in ad 939. This period, when the Imam made 
only occasional appearances, is known as the period of minor occultation (ghaibaH mghra) . This was 
followed by the major occultation (ghaibat-i kubra) which will last till his appearance before the ultimate 
Day of Reckoning (qiyamah) the day when he will arise and take the revenge of Karbala. 

khalifa: the temporal successor; also the caliph. 

The Shia Muslims 295 

khanqah: hospice. 

khoja: Ismaili Shias of the Nizari branch. 

khums: a religious tax equivalent to l/5th of the total income, to be paid to the Imam or his deputies. 

khutba: sermon from the pulpit, generally after the Friday and Id prayers. 

Ma'arik: lit. battlefields; religious assemblies of the mourners commemorating Imam Husain's martyrdom. 
Now such assemblies in modern India are known as majlis (plural, majalis) or rauza khwani. 

manazira: polemical debate. 

matam: passion play; self-affliction; also known as sina-zani (breast beating; mourning rites among the Shias, 

especially during the Muharram celebration involving the beating of the chest to express grief and sorrow. 

It is also frequently done by using small knives tied to a string (zanjir) being struck to the naked backs. 

Matam, using qama (knives, swords) to strike the forehead, is also done. A third kind of matam is done by 

beating the chest while walking on fire, 
muhajir: 'the emigrants'; the group of companions who migrated along with the Prophet of Islam from Mecca 

to Medina, 
mujtahid: jurisprudent; a religious scholar who can interpret and elaborate fiqh. 

mulhid/mulahida: heretics. 

munafiq: hypocrites. 

ma'sum: infallible; those who commit no sin. According to the Shia doctrines there are fourteen Infallible 

persons: the Prophet, his daughter Fatima and the twelve imams. 
Maula: patron, master, leader, friend. The term is used for the Prophet and all the twelve imams, 
naql: interpretation based on immitation. 

nasibi: heretics. 

nauha: elegies recited in accompaniment of matam. 

panjatan: the pious five: the Prophet, Fatima, AH, Hasan, and Husain. 

qasida: ode; verses in praise of something or someone (especially the imams and the martyrs of Karbala). 

rauza-khwani: mourning sermon and elegies revolving around the tragedy of Karbala. 

rawafiz: heretics; a derogatory term used to connote the Shias. 

sahaba: companions of the Prophet. 

as-Siddiq al-Akbar: the greatest man of truth. 

silsila: Sufi order. 

tabut: lit. 'coffin'; replica of Imam Husain's coffin taken out in procession during Muharram. 

taqiyya: dissimulation; to hide one's faith and beliefs amidst dangers of physical harm. 

tazia: replica of Imam Husain's tomb made generally of bamboo and paper, carried in processions by the 

mourners; tazias made of wood, silver, or gold are generally kept in imambaras. 
tazkir: narration; (religious) sermon, 
ummah: the (Muslim) community, 
wakil us saltanat: the principal minister, 
wasi: vicegerent, 
ya'sub: leader; head, 
zakat: a religious tax for charitable purpose.